Today, in a time where fuel and energy prices fluctuate wildly between the forces of market demand and political jostling, we see an even higher cost of resources. Those resources used in the battle field have a greater cost than ever before and it’s more than just money — it’s about lives.
Learning to maximize efficiency of operations and minimize the need for energy related resources can help save both. Conservation and awareness programs are critical to the Soldier populace, giving them the tools to operationalize sustainability, and to train the way they fight.
As a means to integrate sustainability into daily military operations, the Green Boot program was developed and enterprised across the Fort Bragg installation. This has been an effective tool to reach out to Fort Bragg populace to identify what people can do to conserve Fort Bragg’s natural and fiscal resources.
Studies have shown that one, in eight casualties suffered in Afghanistan and Iraq are associated with fuel convoys. If Soldiers can develop conservation “muscle memory” these practices will be carried downrange and “operationalized.” Thus leading to a reduction in fuel usage, ultimately leading to the reduction of resupplies needed to forward operating bases, and minimizing the amount of Soldiers needed to secure logistics needed to power the mission.
Connecting sustainability to the mission is fully understood and embraced by much of the Fort Bragg military populace. Due to the transient nature of Soldiers on the installation, getting the unit leadership to buy in and make sustainability “business as usual” is a means to instill conservation practices.
Organizations across the installation are encouraged to participate and on occasion a best practice emerges.
The 528th Sustainment Brigade’s implementation of the Green Boot Program is one of these examples. To kick-off the program, they organized a Green Boot presentation to which a majority of the brigade attended, well over 100 Soldiers. The audience was very engaged and wanted to know what they could do to help conserve. They were briefed on the costs associated with operating an installation. Although transparent, these costs are not generally known by the installation populace.
In fiscal year 2011, it cost: $43 million to power the installation, $2.5 million for water and about $3 million for municipal solid waste. The Soldiers of the 528th Bde. were then very connected to these costs and wanted to know what they could do to save the installation’s resources. The Soldiers actively looked at ways to invest resources into their facilities and operations to ensure that while supporting the mission, they are doing this sustainably. The innovation that the 528th Sustainment Bde. has exhibited in program implementation is a role model for other units on the installation to follow and as they permanently change station, go on temporary duty or deploy, they will take these actions with them and spread the message of operationalizing sustainability and reducing the Department of Army’s footprint while in garrison as well as downrange.
During the walking energy audit which is part of the certification, the 528th Sustainment Bde. performed an initial walk-through of their building inventory. One of these facilities was an unoccupied newly constructed building that had all of the cubicles assembled with the area and task lighting defaulted to “on.” This observation led members of the energy team to developed a specification to be submitted to Huntsville Corps of Engineers, requiring that all assembled furniture and appliances be unplugged or defaulted to off until occupancy is achieved.
As there are many construction projects on the installation, this will help conserve energy.
The 528th Sustainment Bde. also took advantage of the Fort Bragg Incentives Program, implementing recycling at all of their facilities. In a period of two months, the brigade earned over $200 in the Directorate of Family and Morale, Welfare and Recreation vouchers to be used at any FMWR facility.
At their new facility, the brigade plans to expand their landscape plan where with each change of command, they add a native tree. The Fort Bragg Arbor Board is going to assist by incorporating this practice into the current landscape plan.
The Green Boot Program was adopted from the Sustainable Sandhills Green Business Program. The program was originally pushed out as the Green Directorate Program to be tested within garrison. Due to interest from the military populace, the program was modified as the Green Boot Program and pushed out to Fort Bragg units. The Green Boot Program is a vehicle to empower the military to look for ways to conserve Fort Bragg resources and bridges the gap-costs associated with operating an installation from those who are contributing to the costs.
Once the Green Boot conversation begins, it has been noted that participants become very passionate and innovative in identifying how they can make a positive difference within their organizations or at home. Instilling these practices has proven to be transferable and would benefit the Department of Army and Department of Defense if everyone followed the example of the 528th Sustainment Bde.’s example about making conscious decisions that will inevitably lead to cost avoidance and savings for Fort Bragg. This allows leadership to reallocate these savings to other projects or programs.
For more information about the Fort Bragg Energy Program or Green Boot Program, contact Paul Hora at 818-1225 or firstname.lastname@example.org.